News Updates...ACAL News – Week of 9 November 2007
Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust is a regional, private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, founded in 1990 by a group of Tug Hill residents, and incorporated in 1991. The land trust serves the Tug Hill region in northern New York State and includes portions of Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and Oswego counties.
According to their website, Tug Hill Tomorrow was formed for two purposes:
1. To help increase awareness and appreciation of the Tug Hill region through educational efforts; and
2. To help retain the forest, farm, recreation and wild lands of the region through voluntary, private land protection efforts.
Tug Hill Tomorrow consists of an eleven-member volunteer board, with Linda M. Garrett, as Executive Director. The land trust accepts tax-deductible donations and is always looking for volunteers to help with their mission.
Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust held its annual dinner meeting on Thursday, November 1, 2007, at The Post House Banquet Facility/Freddy's Diner in Boonville, NY, from 6-9 PM. Special Guest, Dr. Gregory McGee of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, spoke on "The Effects of Nitrogen & Acid Deposition on Tug Hill".
Dr. McGee is an adjunct assistant professor in residence at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. His expertise includes ecology, management and restoration of forest ecosystems, and the effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on northern hardwood forests.
According to the college website, Dr. McGee's research interests "focus on understanding the effects of forest management practices and land-use history on forest biodiversity and ecosystem processes. This research is being applied to develop forest management guidelines that will more effectively maintain biodiversity while permitting the sustained yield of forest products. I also conduct research on forest biogeochemistry and have a particular interest in nutrient cycling processes within old-growth forests and the effects of excessive atmospheric nitrogen deposition on forest nitrogen cycling."
Adirondack Communities Advisory League (ACAL) Director of Research Kathy Crofoot of Boonville, attended Tug Hill Tomorrow’s annual dinner and would like to share some of the information included in Dr. McGee’s speech:
Dr. McGee held a captive audience as he described the results of a two-year study, which shows that Tug Hill receives some of the highest levels of nitrogen deposition in the country.
The data indicates the Tug Hill currently experiences annual cycles of high nitrogen levels during snow melt with washout into the streams, and lower levels during the growing season when plants are able to take up available nitrogen.
Excessive levels of nitrogen deplete the soil of needed nutrients such as magnesium, which is “vital to the chlorophyll molecule”, according to Dr. McGee. If conditions progress to a state of “Nitrogen Saturation”, levels will remain at a constant high level even during the growing season. The long-term impact will be a decline in forest growth.
Thanks to the Clean Air Act, sulfur deposition has decreased significantly, but due to the causes such as burning of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum), nitrogen is a much tougher problem to solve. Dr. McGee indicated that controls would have to be applied at the national level.
In addition to other programs and projects relating to the Tug Hill region, the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, is directly involved in working with private landowners to create conservation easements. According to their website,
A conservation easement is a legal, voluntary agreement between a landowner and a private land trust (such as Tug Hill Tomorrow), government agency, or another qualified organization that protects the natural, agricultural, recreational, scenic, or historic features of the property in perpetuity. With a conservation easement on your land, you are assured that your land will be protected forever without giving up ownership of the land. Conservation easements are very flexible and are tailored to each landowner and property. For example, a landowner may want to retain the right to farm or harvest timber, or retain future building rights. These details are worked out between the landowner and the Land Trust.
Conservation easements allow landowners to permanently protect their land. According to Tug Hill Tomorrow’s website, “in 2006, New York State passed the Conservation Easement Tax Credit which gives the landowner of a donated easement an annual, refundable income tax credit of 25% of the property taxes paid on land protected by a conservation easement, up to $5000 per year.”
With a conservation easement in place, landowners can:
• Preserve land areas for outdoor recreation
• Protect natural wildlife habitats and ecosystems
• Preserve open space, including farm and forested land
• Preserve historically important land areas or buildings
Land trusts in rural areas of New York State are becoming more prevalent as landowners seek to protect their lands forever. Many farms have been in families for generations. As the working farmer edges closer to retirement, sometimes there are no family members to carry on the business. Instead of selling the farm to a developer and adding to the sprawl already reaching into rural townships, farmers can place their land into a conservation easement. The property is then protected, while farmers retain ownership of their land.
The Tug Hill region, known for thousands of acres of undeveloped land, is fortunate to have an organization such as Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, working to preserve the lands, forests, waters, wildlife and history in northern New York State.
For more information about the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, please visit their website, http://www.tughilltomorrowlandtrust.org
By Jacki Chamberlain with Kathy Crofoot
Adirondack Communities Advisory League (ACAL)
To view the organization's map, click on this link: http://www.tughilltomorrowlandtrust.org/map.cfm
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